5 Most Expensive Fighter Jets of All Time

Posted on April 23, 2019 David Atkinson Aviation

Since WWII, we have seen expansive advancements in military fighter jet design and technology across the globe. Fighter jets must have the capacity to keep up in dogfights and operate in air-to-air or air-to-ground strikes. As a result, fighter jet engineering has led to significant cost increases per aircraft. Most modern fighter jets cost between $65 to $250 million each— let’s take a look at the 5 most expensive.


  • F-117 Nighthawk; 107.7 Million
The Nighthawk has been retired since 2008, but it is still known as one of the stealthiest U.S. fighter jets from inception to operation. The design and build of this aircraft was top secret and was incredibly expensive even at the time of its first flight in 1982. It incorporated two F404-F1D2 turbofan engines from the General Electric Compnay, and had a top speed of around 700 mph.

  • Chengdu J-20 Black Eagle; $110 Million
This multi-role, strike fighter jet is a Chinese aircraft that took its maiden flight in 2017. It utilizes a twin-engine afterburning turbofan system. This fighter jet can reach max speeds of 1350 mph and is the 5th generation of its family.

  • F-35B Lightning II; $121.8 Million
Known for its vertical landing capabilities, this aircraft also has the capacity for shorter take-offs. It is an aircraft intended for air-to-air and air-to-ground combat, and has a top speed of 1200 mph. The F-35B has two unique features that set it apart from the rest of the aircraft on this list: it has an engine that can swivel 90 degrees, and a Rolls Royce LiftFan propulsion system.

  • F-35C Lightning II; $122.8 Million
The Lightning II is a carrier aircraft that is widely recognized for its versatility in air-to-air and air-to-ground strikes. As the 5th member of the F-35 family, it is the most expensive version. The Lightning II has a more robust landing gear assembly design, and longer wings than any of its predecessors. This aircraft can fly a max speed of 1200 mph. and is powered by one Pratt & Whitney F135-PW-100 turbofan engine.

  • F-22 Raptor; $152 Million
Ranking in as the most expensive air superiority fighter jet is the F-22 Raptor. This aircraft is known for its maneuverability and super cruise capabilities. It has two Pratt & Whitney F119-PW-100 engines with afterburners and two-dimensional thrust nozzles, allowing it to reach a top speed of 1500 mph. The F-22 Raptor is a 5th generation aircraft and took its maiden flight in 2005. Each aircraft is intended for 3 to 4 decades of use, making it a considerable investment, despite its hefty upfront price.

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